Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping Cough is caused by a bacteria (Bordetella Pertussis) which gives your child a very bad cough. This cough can become so bad that it causes your child to make a whooping noise. (Usually in children over 1 year old).

Your child may also be sick because of the coughing. It usually happens in children under the age of 4. When a child gets Whooping cough he/she will have coughing spasms which can be very frightening – this is a guideline to help you cope.

How do you get it?
Whooping cough can be spread by a droplet infection (when a child with the bacteria coughs or sneezes).

What are the symptoms?
It takes 5-21 days for Whooping Cough to develop. Any of the following symptoms may occur:
• Runny Nose
• Sneezing
• Tickly, Dry Cough
• Fever
• Refusing to eat
• Vomiting
• Difficulty Breathing
• Unable to catch breath with coughing fit
• Can be cyanosed or blue in the face
• Extreme Tiredness
• Violent Coughing – the episodes (paroxysms) of coughing can continue to occur for up to 100 days.

Severe symptoms should prompt a parent to seek urgent medical attention.

How to care for your child
• Ensure the child gets plenty of rest
• Offer small amounts of fluid frequently

Give food and drink as the child is able to take
• After the coughing has subsided you can re-offer your child fluid/food as tolerated
• Keep your child occupied during the day (interest in play may reduce paroxysms of coughing)

Treatment for your child:
• Sometimes children come into hospital and we help them to breath with oxygen.
• Children will usually be given a course of antibiotics
• Hold your child upright during spasms and soothe the back with gentle rubbing, do not pat the back vigorously as this can stimulate coughing

How to Prevent Whooping Cough
When you take your child for their immunisations around 2,3,4 months old, whooping cough immunisation will be given, along with the other primary vaccines. It is therefore important that your child receives this vaccination. The vaccination against pertussiis is also given to pregnant women this has helped reducing the number of whooping coughs in babies. This will help to spread
awareness among the general public.

Your child will still need the whooping cough vaccine even if he/she has had whooping cough. The more people are vaccinated against whooping cough, the less chance of passing on the infection
to a young baby, which can cause serious and possibly fatal complications.